BREAKING NEWS . . . Ismail Sabri de facto Pakatan Harapan Plus Prime Minister!

Gov’t-Pakatan Harapan MoU ignores ‘elephant in the room’.

Opposition backbone risks being party to ‘illegalities’.

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) opposition coalition, ironically, appears to be “protecting” Prime Minister Ismail Sabri from gov’t lawmakers in Parliament.

That’s tantamount to his faction, with 32 MPs in the “rebranded” Barisan Nasional Plus gov’t, virtually defecting to PH albeit in all but name, if not the opposition coalition being party to “illegalities”.

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim clarified in the media that the gov’t-PH Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) isn’t a Conditional and Supply Agreement (CSA). Anwar’s clarification implies that any CSA would have put PH’s seal of approval on illegitimate gov’t.

Clearly, the MoU would not have materialised if not for the conditional nominations viz. Umno court cluster’s 14, Perikatan Nasional’s 50 and Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s 18 for Ismail Sabri on Wed 18 Aug.

The MoU remains a moral hazard. It ignores the “moral high ground”, given deviations and distortions from the straight and narrow. It can be argued that it’s degenerate and morally depraved. It can be further argued that if there’s any “sense of shame” in PH, it does not explain why the opposition coalition continues to publically flog the “dead horse” MoU, if not to “protect” Ismail Sabri. Anwar, in a saving grace, has at the same time been publicly insisting that the Prime Minister must face the confidence motion in Parliament.

Mahathir the Critic . . .

It’s a contradiction in terms when PH calls for reforms, and at the same time, publicly takes several steps backwards by entering into a deadend MoU with the “illegitimate” Ismail Sabri.

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, in a telling take in the media, has implied that the MoU reeks of “corruption”. He may not have meant giver-taker situations — I stand corrected on this — but more about “making everything one touches to go bad” viz. propping up “bad” gov’t.

It has been said often enough that man does not live by bread alone, principles are important.

Mahathir’s charges probably can be backed up by more than “circumstantial” evidence. Patently, the MoU ignores the “elephant in the room”. Therein lies the spirit of the law which rules against the MoU.

The jury isn’t out on Ismail Sabri, like in his predecessor Muhyiddin Yassin’s case, having no legitimacy. There’s no consent of the governed.

The people have lost their sovereignty to the 14 Umno MPs dubbed the “court cluster”. Sovereignty was first lost when Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah was not appointed Prime Minister on Mon 24 Feb 2020 when Mahathir abruptly resigned. Instead, the illegitimate Muhyiddin Yassin was appointed Prime Minister on Sun 1 Mar last year, heading a gov’t which was doomed to fail given the number of gov’t MPs facing various charges in court.

Muhyiddin was forced by the Umno “court cluster” to resign on Mon 16 Aug, publicly on “dubious” grounds i.e. the economy heading south in the wake of the pandemic. It was a “chicken and egg” situation. The Opposition refused to save him from the Umno “court cluster”.

International law . . .

Under international law, the international community has responsibility for restoring sovereignty to those who have lost it. In recent history, it happened in Kuwait, followed by Iraq.

There’s also “work in progress” on restoring sovereignty in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Yemen and Syria, among other countries.

The Taliban seized Kabul by force from the democratically elected and lawfully established Islamic gov’t of Afghanistan in mid Aug. The Taliban plan to revive the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which was ousted in two months by US troops in 2001, on the grounds that it harboured anti rule of law “terrorists”, and thereby posed a grave threat to the global security framework.

There are some parallels here, on the changing of the guards, between the Taliban in Kabul and Muhyiddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri in Putrajaya.

The difference with the Taliban remains that Malaysia is ostensibly a secular nation-state subscribing to the rule of law, the basis of the Federal Constitution. Of course, PAS may prefer Taliban rule in Malaysia as well. Let’s not go there. That’s another story, for another day if PAS runs amok on the rule of law.

Hypocrisy knows no limits . . .

Other Opposition leaders, besides Mahathir, have criticised the MoU as well in no uncertain terms.

Ironically, the critics include those who were responsible for overthrowing the democratically elected, and lawfully established, Sabah gov’t on Sat 12 May 2018. Clearly, hypocrisy knows no limits in the Opposition. The Federal Court ruled on Tues 1 Sept last year that Sat 12 May 2018 was unconstitutional as the Perak case law 2009 was not applicable outside the sultanates in Malaya.

Already, the social media has been calling for rethink on the gov’t-PH MoU, a “bad smell” that keeps following PH and threatens to envelope Parliament. The Ismail Sabri gov’t stands detrimental to parliamentary democracy.

There’s consensus that reforms should among others include core areas like due diligence to prevent inflated gov’t contracts draining the public treasury, tax evasion on donations, money laundering charges not being pursued by the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC), the court putting on blinkers on the unfairness of gov’t procedures when hearing judicial review Applications, the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA) being allegedly used for purposes it was not intended, and the issuance in Sabah of late registration birth certificates from ages back to illegal immigrants born outside the country for their existence in the electoral rolls.

Smoking gun . . .

Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin provided the proverbial smoking gun when he publicly declared that National Registration Dept (NRD) officers would be stationed at polling stations in Sabah on Fri 26 Sept last year to prevent illegal immigrants voting in the snap territorial elections. He raised eyebrows when he implied that not all in the electoral rolls were in the NRD data bank. The power grabbers of Sat 12 May 2018, denied illegal votes, bit the dust in the snap territorial elections.

Two other reform issues arise:

Malay MyKads being allegedly issued to those who don’t qualify under the Definition of Malay in Article 160(2) in the Federal Constitution; and

Public perception that the NRD has since done away with the Malay classification, a form of identity, on the chip in MyKads, thereby rendering the Malay Definition redundant in Article 160(2). There have always been issues with the Malay Definition in the otherwise colour-blind Constitution.

No Unity Cabinet . . .

Another sore point in the social media is that the Cabinet does not include any MP from PH which won GE14 on Thurs 10 May 2018 and ended the uninterrupted 60 year rule of the BN coalition. The thinking behind the MoU may be on installing Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister. That may explain why the CSA was stillborn.

Anwar, however, will be treated as a Senior Minister under the MoU with all the perks. He rejected the offer publicly when it was first announced by Muhyiddin Yassin on Fri 13 Aug, as part of the Seven-Point Plan to stave off imminent collapse of gov’t.

If Ismail Sabri has since virtually emerged as the Prime Minister of a de facto PH Plus gov’t, it should be sanctified by Parliament via a confidence motion.

The confidence motion can’t be a “one horse” show lest it degenerate into a no confidence motion.

At least three MPs, proposed and seconded, should be in the fray. The winner gets at least 51 per cent of the nominations. If no one gets 51 per cent, there should be a run-off between the top two contenders. Anwar may get the chance to be Prime Minister if the confidence motion considers him as well in the running.

NOTE: Longtime Borneo watcher Joe Fernandez keeps a keen eye on M’sia as a legal scholar (jurist).

He was formerly Chief Editor of Sabah Times. He’s not to be mistaken for a namesake previously with Daily Express.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/author/joe/

https://m.malaysiakini.com/en/author/Joe%20Fernandez

Author: fernzthegreat

Joe Fernandez holds a honours degree in management, majoring in economics, and has opted from academia in law to being a jurist. He was trained professionally on the job as a journalist. He's a longtime Borneo watcher, keen on the history and legal aspects of Malaya's presence in Sabah and Sarawak. He teaches the English language privately and has emerged as a subject matter expert in public examination techniques.

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